I love having sweet treats in the middle of the day and used to fall to temptations of a bag of cookies or fancy dessert after a lunch date. I now know better and keep a stash of “go to” healthier options when I feel the need. These Chocolate Nut and Seed Bars are a great treat to indulge in from time to time and I love making an extra batch to give away as little “gratitude gifts”. That’s code word for “Get these away from me, or I will eat them all”.

HAPPY HORMONES

This little treat is not only going to make you happy, but your hormones will be jumping for joy too. Hemp seeds may help regulate hormones to relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause. Hemp seeds as well as cashews and sesame seeds are also known to lower cholesterol. What’s more is that flaxseeds may lower blood pressure and protect you from heart disease.  And do I need to talk about chocolate and its power to lower cortisol (stress hormone)? I think this sweet treat is a win-win-win!

MODIFICATIONS

I spend way too much time in the kitchen experimenting with different recipes I find online or in my cookbooks. About 99% of the time I need to modify the recipe to suit my needs and palate or simply to accommodate the ingredients sitting in my fridge. This time I had only a few modification from the original recipe from Half Baked Harvest to make it truly “hack-my-age-able”.

If you have been following me for some time, you know my stance on snacks and treats. They are just that. Something you eat from time to time and in moderation. Just because something is healthy for you doesn’t mean “the more, the better”. And just because someone labeled a food as “bad for you” doesn’t mean you should eliminate it completely (unless you have a food intolerance or serious issue with it).  I do not like demonizing food groups and believe this can lead to disordered and emotional eating.

So, take these treats as they are. Keep in mind they are low in carb and sugars (yay), but high in fat, which may or may not be a good thing for you. Personally, for me, I keep my fats and carbs in check (we need both!) and in balance so am mindful of high fat treats.

Let’s get started!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
6 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
3 tablespoons hemp seeds
1/4 cup cooked quinoa (optional)
1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut nectar or maple syrup (may eliminate if you have enough sweetness in the chocolate)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g (8 ounces) 85+% dark chocolate melted (I use 99%)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 175C (350C).
2. Coat a square or rectangular baking pan with a little oil and then line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
3. Toast cashews, coconut, sesame seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds on a baking sheet, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Watch it and don’t let it burn!
4. Let cool slightly and measure out 2 tablespoons to top the bars with later (optional).
5. Add the nut seed mixture plus the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and quinoa (if using) to a food processor or blender. Process until finely chopped and then place in a medium bowl.
6. Add the coconut nectar (if needed) and the vanilla to the nut seed mixture and stir to coat.
7. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan with your hands or the back of cup.
8. Bake until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Let cool and then cut into individual squares.
9. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Dip the cooled bars into the melted chocolate , sprinkle the extra seeds as topping and place on a cookie sheet or plate.
9. Freeze five minutes to harden the chocolate quickly and then store in an airtight container in the fridge or in cool area.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Makes 16 bars